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The Witch of Cologne
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About the Author

Originally from London, where she trained to be a sculptor, Tobsha Learner has lived in America and Australia. Learner has written for radio, television and film, and the theater. Her plays have been performed at theater festivals in the US, Australia, and Scotland, and she has produced three short films.
Learner's short story collection, "Quiver," is an international success. "The Witch of Cologne" was a bestseller in Australia and has been released in Germany as well as in the United States. She is currently working on a new novel.

Reviews

In a sensuous 17th-century saga set in German Catholic Cologne, Learner (Quiver) transports readers to a time when studying the ancient Kabbalah could prove deadly for a young Jewish midwife. Ruth bas Elazar Saul is the headstrong daughter of the chief rabbi of Deutz, Cologne's Jewish ghetto. She undertakes the forbidden course of mystical study, her Sephardic mother's legacy, before absconding to Amsterdam to escape an arranged marriage. There, Ruth acquires the contemporary midwifery skills she will combine with her sacred learning, and upon her return to Cologne she delivers wealthy burghers' babies using new lifesaving methods, earning a reputation for more than medical genius. Word of her skills travels quickly, and as the Spanish Inquisition stretches its tentacles to the Rhineland, Ruth is arrested for sorcery by the sadistic archbishop Carlos Vicente Solitario, whose persecution of her is fueled by a stymied youthful obsession with her mother. Ruth's keen intelligence and bravery in prison win her an ally, Canon Detlef von Tennen, who falls passionately in love with the "Jewess." The two marry, and Learner has readers rooting for the survival of their unlikely alliance. This steamy, riveting page-turner is also a paean to the triumph of a woman's spirit. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

When Jewish midwife Ruth bas Elazar Saul is arrested for witchcraft it seems inevitable that the good-looking Cannon Detlef, who is struggling with questions of faith and religion, will fall in love with her. Seventeenth-century Europe, political intrigues, witch trials and the plague form a colourful tapestry that acts as a background for what is essentially a love story. Like a tapestry, the setting is meticulously detailed, carefully woven but unfortunately two-dimensional. Despite large sections of exposition, and clichid secondary characters, Learner has a rich historical palate to play with and uses it to create a plot that gains pace as it progresses, eventually hooking even a reluctant reader. Quiver, Learner's first collection of erotic stories, tickled the fancy of journalists and thousands of women desperate for a risqui read. Here again, Learner has brewed a simmering pot-boiler with a generous quivering of spice. This novel will appeal to readers who delight in the worlds conjured in Geraldine Brooks' Year of Wonders and Anne Rice's dark historical romances. Like Rice's work, Learner writes with a leaning towards eroticism. If you find self-flagellation, torture and the Kama Sutra intriguing, you will not be disappointed by The Witch of Cologne. Krissy Kneen is a writer of fiction and film and works at Avid Reader, West End. C. 2003 Thorpe-Bowker and contributors

Imagine that you have the medical knowledge and skill to save lives; now imagine a time and a place in which just having those skills is punishable by death. Such is 17th-century world in which Ruth bas Elazar Saul lives. Ruth, daughter of the chief rabbi of Deutz, is a beautiful, headstrong, and gifted midwife who uses both science and Kabala to help women during childbirth. Accused of practicing witchcraft by Catholic inquisitor Carlos Solitario, Ruth must face her accusers and defend her belief in science and faith. Bawdy, romantic, and filled with well-developed characters, Learner's first novel (previously, she wrote Quiver: A Book of Erotic Tales) is evocative of Geraldine Brooks (Year of Wonders) and Diana Gabaldon's sensual touch (Outlander). Fans of historical fiction involving religion, science, and romance will savor every page of this impossible-to-put-down book set in Cologne and Amsterdam. With a reading group guide; recommended for all public libraries.-Marika Zemke, West Bloomfield Twp. P.L., MI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Praise for Witch of Cologne:
"An historical romance that transcends its genre with meticulous attention to detail and wonderful visual sense."
--Vogue (Australia)
"A rich historical novel with a contemporary feel."
--Marie Claire (Australia)
"If you like juicy historical novels with richly-drawn Jewish characters living interesting lives, then this is a novel you must read. [The] characters, both Jewish and Christian, are surprising in their depth of personality and by their believability. The story is a real page turner. Ruth is noble and honest; a modern woman set in a far-off time."
--Australian Jewish News
"Like a tapestry, the setting is meticulously detailed [and] carefully woven. Learner has a rich historical palette to play with and uses it to create a plot that gains pace as it progresses. The novel will appeal to reader who delight in the worlds conjured in Anne Rice's dark historical romances. Like Rice, Learner writes with a leaning toward eroticism."
--Australian Bookseller & Publisher

Praise for "The Witch of Cologne": "Fans of sweeping historical dramas will be enthralled by Ruth's story; remarkably, Learner writes with equal power about the intensity of Ruth's spirituality, the passion of her forbidden love for Detlef, and the horror of the torture she suffers at Solitario's hands. This is the kind of all-consuming novel that readers hate to see end."--"Booklist"
"Whisks readers away to 17th-century Cologne and Amsterdam."--"The New York Times Magazine"
"Learner enlightens readers on the intricacies of the Church, the Inquisition, and Jewish mysticism in a deep and moving novel."--"Romantic Times BookClub Magazine"
"In the nature of her belief that God is within us and her practice of a newer, more scientific kind of midwifery, Ruth is clearly well ahead of the time. Learner's writing is highly visual, consciously theatrical with dramatic scenes that are larger than life. The novel moves with extraordinary energy and pace."--"The Age"
"Brimming with imagination and larger-than-life characters. Casts a magical spell."--"New Weekly"
"Bawdy, romantic, and filled with well-developed characters, Learner's first novel is evocative of Geraldine Brooks and Diana Gabaldon's sensual touch. Fans of historical fiction involving religion, science, and romance will savor every page of this impossible-to-put-down book set in Cologne and Amsterdam."--"Library Journal"
"Sensuous . . . . Ruth bas Elazar Saul is arrested for sorcery by the sadistic archbishop Carlos Vicente Solitario. Ruth's keen intelligence and bravery in prison win her an ally, Canon Detlef von Tennen, who falls passionately in love with the 'Jewess.' This steamy, riveting page-turner isalso a paean to the triumph of a woman's spirit." --"Publishers Weekly"""
"A story of intricately woven facts and fiction with rich sensory details. Written with great intelligence and care, "The Witch of Cologne" is spellbinding, intriguing and touched with erotica."--"Affaire de Coeur"
Praise for "The Witch of Cologne": " Fans of sweeping historical dramas will be enthralled by Ruth' s story; remarkably, Learner writes with equal power about the intensity of Ruth' s spirituality, the passion of her forbidden love for Detlef, and the horror of the torture she suffers at Solitario' s hands. This is the kind of all-consuming novel that readers hate to see end." --"Booklist"
" Whisks readers away to 17th-century Cologne and Amsterdam." --"The New York Times Magazine"
" Learner enlightens readers on the intricacies of the Church, the Inquisition, and Jewish mysticism in a deep and moving novel." --"Romantic Times BookClub Magazine"
" In the nature of her belief that God is within us and her practice of a newer, more scientific kind of midwifery, Ruth is clearly well ahead of the time. Learner' s writing is highly visual, consciously theatrical with dramatic scenes that are larger than life. The novel moves with extraordinary energy and pace." --"The Age"
" Brimming with imagination and larger-than-life characters. Casts a magical spell." --"New Weekly"
" Bawdy, romantic, and filled with well-developed characters, Learner' s first novel is evocative of Geraldine Brooks and Diana Gabaldon' s sensual touch. Fans of historical fiction involving religion, science, andromance will savor every page of this impossible-to-put-down book set in Cologne and Amsterdam." --"Library Journal"
" Sensuous . . . . Ruth bas Elazar Saul is arrested for sorcery by the sadistic archbishop Carlos Vicente Solitario. Ruth' s keen intelligence and bravery in prison win her an ally, Canon Detlef von Tennen, who falls passionately in love with the ' Jewess.' This steamy, riveting page-turner is also a paean to the triumph of a woman' s spirit." --"Publishers Weekly"""
" A story of intricately woven facts and fiction with rich sensory details. Written with great intelligence and care, "The Witch of Cologne" is spellbinding, intriguing and touched with erotica." --"Affaire de Coeur"
Praise for "The Witch of Cologne": "Fans of sweeping historical dramas will be enthralled by Ruth's story; remarkably, Learner writes with equal power about the intensity of Ruth's spirituality, the passion of her forbidden love for Detlef, and the horror of the torture she suffers at Solitario's hands. This is the kind of all-consuming novel that readers hate to see end."--"Booklist"

"Whisks readers away to 17th-century Cologne and Amsterdam."--"The New York Times Magazine"

"Learner enlightens readers on the intricacies of the Church, the Inquisition, and Jewish mysticism in a deep and moving novel."--"Romantic Times BookClub Magazine"

"In the nature of her belief that God is within us and her practice of a newer, more scientific kind of midwifery, Ruth is clear
Praise for "The Witch of Cologne" "Fans of sweeping historical dramas will be enthralled by Ruth's story; remarkably, Learner writes with equal power about the intensity of Ruth's spirituality, the passion of her forbidden love for Detlef, and the horror of the torture she suffers at Solitario's hands. This is the kind of all-consuming novel that readers hate to see end."--"Booklist"
"Whisks readers away to 17th-century Cologne and Amsterdam."--"The New York Times Magazine"
"Learner enlightens readers on the intricacies of the Church, the Inquisition, and Jewish mysticism in a deep and moving novel."--"Romantic Times BookClub Magazine"
"In the nature of her belief that God is within us and her practice of a newer, more scientific kind of midwifery, Ruth is clearly well ahead of the time. Learner's writing is highly visual, consciously theatrical with dramatic scenes that are larger than life. The novel moves with extraordinary energy and pace."--"The Age"
"Brimming with imagination and larger-than-life characters. Casts a magical spell."--"New Weekly"
"Bawdy, romantic, and filled with well-developed characters, Learner's first novel is evocative of Geraldine Brooks and Diana Gabaldon's sensual touch. Fans of historical fiction involving religion, science, and romance will savor every page of this impossible-to-put-down book set in Cologne and Amsterdam."--"Library Journal"
"Sensuous . . . . Ruth bas Elazar Saul is arrested for sorcery by the sadistic archbishop Carlos Vicente Solitario. Ruth's keen intelligence and bravery in prison win her an ally, Canon Detlef von Tennen, who falls passionately in love with the 'Jewess.' This steamy, riveting page-turner is also a paean to the triumph of a woman's spirit." --"Publishers Weekly"""
"A story of intricately woven facts and fiction with rich sensory details. Written with great intelligence and care, "The Witch of Cologne" is spellbinding, intriguing and touched with erotica."--"Affaire de Coeur"

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